Sunday, July 31, 2011
Is Ron Paul a libertarian?
No, at least not if "libertarian" has any any real meaning to it. CLS of the "Classically Liberal" blog has done a great job of exposing Paul as a cranky religious conservative. My exposé won't match his, and is derivative of his work, but I'll take a shot at it nevertheless. (The link goes to just one of CLS' exposés of Paul, he has a number of them, all well-reasoned.)
I think Paul once was libertarian, and I suppose most of his devoted followers think he still is (most, but not all). But he's become a rather cranky theocrat, and a surprisingly totalitarian one at that. Here's something rather startling he wrote back in 2003: "[T]here clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states' rights — rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards."
No right to privacy or to choose one's own sexual behavior? But the Ninth and Tenth Amendments give Texas the right to regulate social matters? Good grief!
Here's the text of the two amendments:
IX. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Denying and disparaging individual rights on the basis of non-enumeration is exactly what Paul is doing.
X. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
From this Paul somehow
In 2004 Paul co-sponsored the "Marriage Protection Act" that would prevent federal courts from examining the constitutionality of states failing to recognize marriages conducted in other states. Paul lamented that failure to pass the act would allow a few states to define marriage for the nation, and particularly that same sex marriages would receive legal standing. His position has nothing to do with defending individual liberty, and everything to do with an imaginary "right" of states to impose the standards of religious conservatives on all of us.
Somehow in Paul's head by denying same-sex couples access to marriage, he's protecting marriage from tyranny. I can't help but apply his "reasoning" to Loving v. Virginia, in which the "tyrannical" Supreme Court ended the power of states to deny the legal status of mixed race marriages. In the Loving case, a mixed-race couple was legally married in DC, and then their home in Virginia raided in the middle of the night by policemen, who arrested them and confiscated their marriage certificate as evidence of the "crime" of violating the state law prohibiting mixed race couples from marrying. The Virginia state legislature was, after all, simply regulating "social matters...using local standards." The right to mixed race marriage is found nowhere in the Constitution, either. Paul's argument does indeed apply directly to Loving. In Paul's logic, the racists of the Virginia legislature who passed the Racial Integrity Act had a perfect right to do so, and the judicial activists who defended the rights of Mildred and Richard Loving to be left alone were "tyrants." Re-read Paul's speech before Congress, substituting "mixed-race" for "same-sex" and see for yourself.
Good grief. There's no way Paul can claim to be a libertarian -- he's a religious conservative, and a dishonest one at that, since he often pretends to be a libertarian in order to appeal to a part of his base. There are number of other things about Ron Paul's politics that make him look increasingly kooky -- his close association with 9/11 Truthers (including the Lewdwig von Rockwell Institute), his strange proposals for dealing with the debt limit impasse (which include eliminating the ability of the Fed to drain the excess reserves currently held by banks, thus guaranteeing a future hyperinflation), some of his odd foreign policy pronouncements (he claimed an American missile strike led to the Detroit underwear bomber attack two weeks after, even though the underwear plot was months in the making). He doesn't even seem to be able to bring himself to condemn the neo-Nazi portion of his base.
It is unfortunate that this odd religious conservative is popularly portrayed as a libertarian. He does use libertarian rhetoric at times, but his ideas are not libertarian. I think many libertarian supporters of Paul don't get this -- even I supposed as late as 2008 that he was basically libertarian.
Well, he's not.
Update: here's a particularly thoughtful review of Ron Paul that reaches similar conclusions, and provides numerous quotes from Paul himself, along with other evidence. Worth reading!